By SAM ANOKAM
From 2001 when ace comic actor, Julius Agwu began his annual comedy show Crack Ya Ribs in Lagos, it has been a ritual of some sort but recently, he decided to go back to his roots. Fondly called Julius D’ genius, Agwu has also added a football tournament to this year’s event.
In a chat with The Sun recently, He spoke about this, his plans for the New year, why he doesn’t spend Christmas with his family, his latest album, among other issues.
What is this show about and why are you not holding it in Lagos?
Well the thing is, Lagos is saturated with so many shows while on the other hand people outside are yearning for one, but actually for me I have always had a flair for Port Harcourt and those in the South south and Crack Ya Ribs is a gift that I deemed fit to give them though this year though the venue changed. The new venue is a place called Azech Arcun and the aim of the show is to help the coming stars, to make way for them and to give them all the supports and encouragements they need. It is on Christmas day, December 25.
Among those that would be performing are: Iyanya, Ijaw Boys, Burna boy who participated in last year’s own and Dantonio. Then, I will perform live with my band. It is going to be fun, excitement all round to the celebration of Christ.
Apart from that, there is also another tournament called Julius Agwu Foundation for Youth, JAFFY, which initially started in my community, and the drive is to unearth most of our hidden talents like setting up a football league for the footballers, and yes, it disturbs me that I have never seen an Ikwere footballer in an international football competition or even in the national level and as they always say “ an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” so what we are trying to do is to set up a football competition for the under 20’s to help and support them so they would go far like others. However, the contest is going to be a very serious one. Last year it was the first lady that gave out the cup to the winners and Ogbogu village emerged the winner. This year season 2, Kanu Nwankwo with his younger brother, Ogbonna anchored the kick-off and the finals slated for December 23 hopefully would have Jay Jay Okocha and Peter Rufai for the finals, including Austin Eguavon the coach who is invited to come and see by himself on how these boys could be developed. So you see it’s going to be a very serious business. So the whole thing is all about giving back the people all the supports that they gave me. I was born in Port-Harcourt, raised in Port-Harcourt and finished school in Port-Harcourt too.
What are the challenges organizing this tournament and who are your sponsors?
A lot but the thing is that a lot of organization do not understand the importance of corporate socio responsibility-giving back to the society. As a matter of fact, the first people that sponsored Crack Ya Ribs in 2001, was Monipulo, an oil development company. They saw what I was doing, took interest and decided to be part of it. And this year again Monipulo is offering its support and you know this year is not a very good year for the Aviation but inspite of that Aero contractors still find it fit to offer their support to us. So it baffles me when I see most of these companies that find it difficult to support events especially the ones being held in the community where they too are located. Give back the people what they gave to you, at least through some of these bonanzas and promotions, it’s very necessary.
What are your plans for next year?
Just as we planned, we are ready and believe me by next year, it is going to be in the mouth of every Nigerian. We are making progress and our sponsors are quite behind us, so definitely we are good to go. Meanwhile we are engulfed by so many shows, like after these few shows that I just mentioned by next year we will embark on some of our TV shows like Laugh for Christ Sake, Festival of Love which is a Valentine show, and Comedy Carnival which ceased for sometime and many others. We are going to be very busy next year a lot of things are at stake and we are planning to take them serially and meticulously.
What do you have to say about this constant rush by most of these upcoming comedians who send jokes online?
I don’t think there is any threat at all because anybody can crack joke but it is not everybody that can perform joke. So you see, these are two different things and besides, I think that is how it is supposed to be because entertainment is actually one of the most lucrative business in the world today and comedy is one of the leading trend in it. So I am not surprised at all. But the wound that we are sustaining from it is that of poor or low value. You see most of these upcoming comedians do not actually know what it means to package themselves and their products. But in all things, my joy is that Nigerians are beginning to understand the need for comedians in events and how comedy itself is important to the society. I am so happy on how entertainment evolved in Nigeria. Today almost everybody wants to be an artiste. Every family now has at least one musician one dancer or one comedian, and as I’m talking to you now, I am working on my mother’s album.
By the special grace of God I am turning 40 next year and I am going to back it up with my new book knowing that God will see me through. And don’t ask me about the title of the book because I won’t tell you. In addition, I’m restarting my career by next year. I have been out for sometime now but next year, I am definitely going to crack it up again with a new re-brand of Julius Agwu.
How are you planning to manage all these things that you have mentioned?
Firstly, the music industry has changed so I thought the best thing for me to do is to lay back and rearrange myself which is what I have done. And for the second phase I have a team, so I am not doing it all alone, I have a competent team.
Should we expect any new song from you?
Yes, but that will be by next year, specifically by January. And guess what, I got an inspiration today as I was driving.
Is your wife going to spend this Christmas with you?
No. Recently, she told me that she would love to spend the Christmas celebration in London. She said that she knows that I will be busy with my shows and all that and that she is praying for the day when I will suspend my shows and spend one Christmas with them alone. Meanwhile my brother it is not my fault, boys must hustle.